Calke, Derbyshire

One of the things which always lifts my mood is photography. The other is spending time in wild spaces with wildlife. Combining these two is awesome. I have spent more time in Calke park’s bird hide and attempted to get some slightly sharper images. I have, in the process, come to the conclusion that I need to be using a tripod all the time!

These images are still not sharp enough and, in some cases, the sharpness seems to have become distortion instead, where feathers look overly textured and spiky. I use Lightroom to adjust sharpness in places, where I think it is needed, but I try to keep sharpening to a minimum as it can look awful. I have left some of these without sharpening. I find photography frustrating and confusing at times, and close up bird photography is the greatest source of both of these for me!

Equipment used was a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III with the Canon 100-400mm f/4.5 Mk. I telephoto lens. Handheld. I set the ISO to 400 to avoid too much grain and stuck to using AV mode to gain a shallow depth of field. My shutter speed is often fairly low, and I need to try again using TV mode to increase the shutter speed and capture in-flight images.

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Mull, Scotland.

I spent a magical week in the Isle of Mull, Scotland, visiting Staffa island and Iona too. It was an opportunity to capture images of Scottish wildlife, and to practice photographic techniques. In that sense, it was a relative failure. My equipment wasn’t up to my requirements, and my abilities aren’t up to the standard I needed to make the most of photographic opportunities. However, it was a learning process, to some extent, and made me see how much I have still to learn.

Staffa island blew me away – I had not expected to get so close to puffins and was completely surprised by their proximity (and some people’s willingness to get far too close to puffins and their nests), which meant I was then unable to focus on getting the best images possible of the puffins. I would like to go back and re-try. I was fairly unlucky with sightings of eagles and other birds of prey, not getting close to any large birds. Even the herons were determined to make life impossible for me!

However, I loved it in Mull and plan to go back again, very soon. These images were the result of a couple of late night and early morning drives out with my dog to see what we could get close enough to and capture, and some are from Staffa island.

Spring is sprung

I found a new hide yesterday. Great little find nearby, with so many species frequenting the feeders – including two Great Spotted Woodpeckers at one point! I was excited, it’s true, and spent an hour or so with the camera trying to get some decent captures. However, I was limited in light levels as, by the time I found the hide, it was beginning to darken. To up my shutter speed meant losing depth of field, and I do like my DoF… so I left the camera in AV mode and did my best with low light.

Many blurred images later, I have concluded I need to visit this hide in lighter hours, and use TV mode more for wildlife shots to obtain the really sharp results I want! I managed to get a few sharp(ish) shots, however, and have used LR to adjust the sharpness and shadows in the relevant areas. Here is a small selection – a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), a Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) and Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major pinetorum).

Bradgate Park

Some time ago we spent a lovely summer’s day at Bradgate Park. It is an historic site having been closed off as an estate for hunting since 1281, but once open as part of the Charnwood Forest and having had bronze and iron age settlements recorded on the site. In 1445 the estate was owned by the Grey family, an influential family in Medieval and Tudor England. The family married into English Royalty, culminating in Lady Jane Grey’s birth in 1537 at Bradgate House within the estate. She was proclaimed Queen of England in 1553, a reign which lasted only nine days. Lady Jane Grey was executed for treason after being overthrown by Mary I.

The estate was passed to the people of Leicestershire by an industrialist who bought it from the then Lady Grey, the estate having grown in size to 1300 acres. Much of the site has since been designated a SSSI.  Bradgate House is an unfortified brick-built country house with modifications added over the years, and it is now mostly in ruins. The extensive land appears to be well managed and protected. There are herds of fallow and red deer grazing on the land which have evidently been preserved as individual genetic lines on the same land for centuries due to the park being closed off from migrating herds. During my time there is saw birds of prey, and many Corvids on the park, along with egrets and various ducks.

Twycross Zoo 2017 Pt. II

We had a visit to Twycross Zoo as part of my BSc. Zoology and Film degree course. I have to admit, I slightly fell in love with the Yellow-throated Martens…and of course, the Meerkats. The Bush Dogs are full of character, but don’t look like they care much for humans. They definitely have an attitude! The pelicans were incredibly photogenic on the water.

Twycross Zoo 2017 Pt. I

I don’t agree with most zoos. I don’t agree with the principle of most zoos. Animals are not human entertainment. I hope that some of these images make it clear why animals do not belong in zoos. More to follow.

I’m fully manual on a 60D with a 75-300mm zoom lens in this case. I used the largest aperture I could with auto ISO, and had some nice light. Light always makes the difference.